Though he knows it makes no financial sense, Sam Lipson regularly drives to a local sewer plant to haul home free effluent to irrigate the trees in his yard. A year ago, at the height of California’s drought when residents faced higher rates and penalties for using too much water, the time and effort saved Lipson money. Now, with drought rates and penalties gone, Lipson saves less than 20 cents on his water bill each time he picks up 40 gallons of free effluent, instead of getting the water from his faucet at home. That’s scant compensation for the time and effort.
Archive for date: October 17th, 2016
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What image does the term “water infrastructure” conjure up for you? Likely something engineered, such as a pipe carrying water, a reservoir storing drinking water or a treatment plant purifying wastewater. But the definition should actually be broadened to include natural water infrastructure that was moving and treating water long before pipelines and anaerobic digesters even existed. California has started down this “new” (old) way of thinking – and it’s welcome news.
California’s Native American tribes have not been immune to the drought. In some cases, the effects have been worse because some tribes have limited resources to manage their water shortage problems. Case in point: The La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians in northern San Diego County was recently awarded $605,000 from the Indian Community Development Block Grant program to develop a new well and water distribution system to serve part of its reservation. It’s among $56 million in grants awarded to 77 tribes by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for various projects.
The last in a series of “October surprise” storms drenched the Bay Area on Sunday, filling reservoirs, downing power lines, and causing flash flood warnings in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Though the water was welcome to much of the parched region, the deluge brought more trials and misery to the hardy folk who survived the devastating Loma fire earlier this month. Boulders crashed, creeks raged, trees toppled and rain seeped into damaged homes.The weather is expected to clear up Monday and grow warmer throughout the week.
Snow flurries are continuing to fall in the Sierra as the Sacramento Valley is expected to remain mainly dry Monday after a very soggy weekend. Two inches of fresh powder had already fallen at Donner Summit by 6 a.m., prompting chains to be required up Interstate 80. Another 1 to 2 inches of snow is expected to accumulate Monday for areas above 6,000 feet as a winter weather advisory remains in effect until 11 a.m.
The county is expected this week to enter into an agreement with the Borrego Water District to begin joint preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan aimed at solving the continuing depletion of the underground water table that feeds the Borrego Valley, including the desert town of Borrego Springs. The county will commit an initial $500,000 to the agreement and another $700,000 later as work proceeds on the plan, which is needed to avoid state intervention — something nobody wants.
California is poised to become an early adopter of the direct reuse of purified wastewater as a source of drinking water. The State Water Board recently released a report for public comment that indicates it is feasible to regulate direct potable reuse to produce safe and reliable drinking water (comments are due by noon on October 25, 2016). We talked to David Sedlak—one of the 12 experts who worked on the report and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about this potential new water source.
UCR Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Haizhou Liu was recently awarded a competitive National Science Foundation grant this past summer to study and improve the current approach used to purify water for reuse. Through the utilization and study of compounds known as chloramines, Liu hopes to optimize the current model of water purification and lessen the constraints on California’s current water supply.
As California recovers from the drought, it is troubling that there is a push by certain interest groups to establish permanent water conservation regulations beyond this emergency. It seems like these groups are focused more on their ideologies or political agendas than on the real impacts that such a permanent state of emergency will have on other people’s lives and livelihoods. Obviously, a one-size-fits-all blanket-approach solution in California does not work.
The remnants of a soaking weekend storm moved across the Sierra Nevada early Monday, dusting roads with white powder and forcing commuters to put on tire chains.Snow was seen for the first time this season at a National Weather Service observation station in Kingvale, located at 6,200 feet. But the powder was so light that it was not measurable, according to Travis Wilson, a weather service meteorologist in Sacramento. At Mount Rose Ski Resort outside Reno, the storm dumped 7-18 inches of fresh snow.